Feb. 10 event to kick off Harvest Pack initiative to help people struggling during COVID-19
On Wednesday, Feb. 10 at 9 a.m., 350 Saint Thomas Academy cadets will participate in the first of three Harvest Pack events to help the Academy reach its goal of providing more than 108,000 meals to neighbors in need. The three packing events will benefit several local agencies chosen by the Cadets, including Franciscan Brothers of Peace, St. Vincent de Paul, The Sanneh Foundation, Neighborhood House and Risen Christ.
Harvest Pack has had a dramatic decline in its packing events since March of 2020. Since that same time, food insecurity in the Twin Cities has increased significantly. According to a recent Star Tribune story:
- “The pandemic has exacerbated the state's hunger crisis, with more Minnesotans visiting food shelves in 2020 than any year on record. Some food shelves report double or triple the number of visitors as pre-pandemic, many seeking help for the first time.”
- “In 2020, Hunger Solutions' statewide Helpline (1-888-711-1151) responded to three times the number of households as in 2019, connecting residents to programs or food stamps, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).”
- “An estimated 550,000 to 650,000 Minnesotans are ‘food insecure’ — without consistent access to enough food — which is 20 to 40% higher than pre-pandemic.”
William McNally, executive director of Harvest Pack, said, “We’re constantly being asked for more meals than we have and that’s hard.” When there are undesignated meals to be donated, Harvest Pack prioritizes organizations that help meet kids’ basic needs, such as Every Meal (formerly the Sheridan Story), which provides weekend backpack meals to kids in the Minneapolis area.
Each year, Saint Thomas Academy campus ministers choose multiple schoolwide community giving initiatives to connect Cadets with people who may be less fortunate and positively impact the community. This year, the campus ministers are focused entirely on meeting local hunger needs. Partnering with the Patterson Dental Foundation, the Cadets have raised $25,000 to make the packing events possible. In addition to financial support for the Harvest Pack events, Patterson is also donating dental supplies to the agency partners.
Harvest Pack has adjusted its procedures to ensure participants’ safety in packing events. The 350 participants will be split among the Academy’s three gymnasiums and the cafeteria to allow for social distancing. Everyone is required to wear a mask. Please observe one-way direction in hallways and use hand sanitizer as entering and exiting the building. Media are asked to enter through Vincent J. Flynn Hall. Please do not attend if not feeling well or have any COVID-19 symptoms.
WHEN: Wednesday, Feb. 10 at 9-10 a.m.
Saint Thomas Academy
949 Mendota Heights Road
Mendota Heights, Minn. 55120 (map)
350 Saint Thomas Academy Cadets in grades 9-11 (in uniform)
William McNally, executive director of Harvest Pack
About Harvest Pack
Founded in 2012, Harvest Pack is a 501(c)(3) humanitarian hunger-relief nonprofit organization. Harvest Pack addresses food insecurity by supporting volunteers in bringing meal-packing events to their local communities anywhere in the contiguous 48 states. Harvest Pack’s healthy meals are then donated to established nonprofit partners who distribute to food-insecure communities. Though Harvest Pack’s primary focus is fighting hunger in the U.S., it also supports global needs through select international organizations. https://www.harvestpack.org/